Sunday, November 17, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Bear's Breeches

Bear's Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

This elegant Mediterranean perennial was first documented in Italian gardens by 1548 but was grown much earlier by the Romans and Greeks. The bold leaves of this species inspired the architectural crown of Corinthian columns. It was not likely common in America, however, before the mid 19th century. The British garden writer William Robinson revived interest in the Acanthus by extolling its virtues in his classic book, The Wild Garden, 1870. New Jersey nurseryman Peter Henderson admired both Acanthus mollis and A. spinosus as “stately” and remarkably beautiful ornamentals in his Handbook of Plants, 1890. Large, dramatic flowers are attractive to bees.

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